The Disaster Law Project collaborated with the National Low Income Housing Coalition in submitting recommendations to the UN Committee charged with monitoring US compliance with treaty obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

We urged the CERD Committee to focus attention on structural inequalities that combine to increase climate vulnerability in certain communities:

“The U.S. review provides an opportunity not only to address income inequality, racial discrimination, and disaster response failures as independent treaty violations, but to bring those factors together, highlight their interdependence, and center racial discrimination as a determining cause of climate vulnerability that warrants scrutiny under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination [ICERD].”

Historical legacies of formal discrimination combine with structural barriers to income equality in ways that disproportionaltely burden communities of color in terms of exposure to climate change, and the prospect of a full disaster recovery. To address these concerns, we suggeted the Committee examine the US role in:

  • Creating climate vulnerability by failing to fully acknowledge and remedy the most extreme and obvious examples of racial injustice, including race-based enslavement, Native American “removal,” and colonial exploitation of island territories.
  • Perpetuating climate vulnerability among households of color by failing to remedy ongoing income and housing disparities.
  • Deepening climate vulnerability by making it harder for households of color to recover from a disaster.
  • Failing to protect the rule of law following a disaster.”

Read the letter below: